What Not to Say to Someone Who Has Lost Weight
Offering encouragement and support is what good friends do. But sometimes the best of intentions have a way of backfiring on us.
Researchers from Harokopio University in Athens, Greece found that certain kinds of encouraging advice given to people who have lost weight may actually have the opposite effect.
They surveyed 289 people who successfully lost weight and kept it off for more than a year, and 122 people who lost weight, but then regained it shortly afterwards. Participants were asked detailed questions about their diet, physical activity and the kinds of support they received from friends and family.
Oddly, the results showed that people who regained weight reported receiving more support overall from their family and friends. Hoping to solve the puzzle of why that was, investigators dug deeper, looking at each question participants answered about the kinds of support they got.
The results: Support for the "regainers" often came in the form of do-and-don’t reminders -- people who regained weight reported more frequently than the weight maintaining group that their friends and family reminded them not to eat high-fat foods, or reminded them to be physically active.
Those who maintained weight loss more often reported that their friends and families simply engaged in helpful activities with them, such as eating healthy or low-fat foods with them.
The study authors theorize support with the best intentions may be perceived negatively, as criticism and meaningless reminders, by the person already struggling to cope with managing a weight problem.